Monday, November 20, 2017

Literary Criticism As An Argument Of A Certain Kind


In a long past life I was literature student, and not a bad one, with thoughts of a life in academe. The whole thing got to me in the end—note the play on “end”—and I switched horses. But I read this a few years ago and like it very much. It still forms what in literary criticism is essential as I see it.

...Finally behind all that is written in this essay rests the conviction that engaged literary criticism takes a position and argues for it. It argues for what it thinks, and says so clearly and accessibly, forming what it thinks into a coherent whole. Engaged literary criticism defends its position. In the view of literature taken here—seeing from as world, from as meaning, all resonating in theme—literary criticism is most engaged, meaningful and resonant when it grapples with form as world. For that fight brings the critic to the heart of literary meaning, in which form and content are one, which is to say literary works’ very nature and essence....

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